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FOCUS ON GOLF / RYDER CUP | NOTES

Kite, Ballesteros Playing Matchmaker

September 25, 1997|THOMAS BONK | TIMES STAFF WRITER

SOTOGRANDE, Spain — U.S. captain Tom Kite experimented with pairings at Valderrama in Wednesday's practice rounds. He teamed Davis Love III-Phil Mickelson, Tiger Woods-Fred Couples, Lee Janzen-Jeff Maggert, Justin Leonard-Brad Faxon, Scott Hoch-Mark O'Meara and Jim Furyk-Tom Lehman.

European captain Seve Ballesteros paired Per-Ulrik Johansson-Jesper Parnevik, Nick Faldo-Lee Westwood, Ian Woosnam-Bernhard Langer, Costantino Rocca-Jose Maria Olazabal, Thomas Bjorn-Colin Montgomerie and Ignacio Garrido-Darren Clarke.

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At long last, the Miguel Angel Martin controversy is over. Martin and the European Ryder Cup Committee announced Wednesday that they had made up, which meant that Martin received full Ryder Cup status--but cannot play.

Martin, who finished 10th on the European points list, had wrist surgery in July and was booted off the Ryder Cup team after Ballesteros gave him a deadline to play and prove he was able three weeks ago and Martin didn't meet it. Ballesteros chose Ryder Cup veteran Olazabal to replace Martin.

Martin threatened to sue but didn't. Since he now has been given Ryder Cup status, Martin can collect the bonuses in his sponsors' agreements, which apparently was the origin of the controversy, although European PGA Tour officials blamed the media.

Martin was invited to attend the matches as a nonplaying member. He went home Wednesday. Before he left, two European team pictures were taken, one with Martin and one without.

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